The City of Detroit does not have enough books for the libraries at its community centers.
In some cases, says Amanda Draper-Livengood, she is told the libraries have barely any.
Fortunately, the city has trucks. And books? The Bookstock Used Book & Media Sale, returning next Sunday for an eight-day run after two years lost to the pandemic, has 300,000 of them.
Or possibly more. The paperbacks, hardcovers, rarities, CDs, DVDs, vinyl albums and maybe an 8-track or two are so abundant they have to be stashed in three places, so an exact count would be difficult even if anyone were foolish enough to try.
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What’s most important for the bulk of us is that Michigan’s largest used book sale will take up where it left off, raising heaps of money for literacy and education projects while selling children’s books for as little as 50 cents, standard paperbacks for $ 1, and hardbounds for $ 3 or $ 4.
What’s key for Draper-Livengood is that there will be leftovers when the sale concludes May 22 at the Laurel Park Place mall in Livonia. She has plans for a goodly number of them, and that’s exactly what Bookstock is designed for:
To get books out of basements and back in people’s laps where they belong.
A confession: I’m involved
Full disclosure: I’m the honorary chair of Bookstock, an all-volunteer production that has raised $ 2.2 million in 18 previous sales across 20 years.
More full disclosure: My wife and I are at a point in our lives where we’re supposed to be shedding possessions, not adding them, so there have been years where I’ve kept a case of purchases in my car and eased them in and out of the house one at a time rather than confess my bibliophilogical sins.
There are worse positions to be in, and that’s something Draper-Livengood is trying to combat.
Ostensibly, nine Detroit community centers have modest libraries – or depositories, really, where visitors can take some of the few hundred books, return them if the mood strikes, replace them with different books if that mood strikes, or not return them at all.
“We do not have a budget,” Draper-Livengood said. “Some of our rec center libraries do not even have bookshelves.”
And, it should be noted, they do not have a librarian. Her job with the city is coordinator of Hart Plaza, but she volunteered to become the book angel because “it’s about spreading the love. That’s what it comes down to, spreading love and knowledge and supporting the people in these neighborhoods. ”
Continuing the theme, she’d adore getting more children’s books, along with encyclopedias kids could use to do homework. And she’d be thrilled about finding donations of couches, chairs, and kid-size furniture, “so grandma and grandpa could come in and read their grandkids a book.”
If you have a line on those bulkier items, email her at email@example.com. For the full rundown on the sale, go to BookstockMI.org.
Or, for the abridged version, read on.
A presale (mind the elbows)
A few key facts:
- There’s a presale at 8:15 am Sunday where $ 20 gets you the first whack at the merchandise. Do not stand between the opening throng and the cookbooks. One year, a TV reporter doing a live broadcast was elbowed out of the way.
- Otherwise, admission is free. Sale hours are 11 am-6pm Sundays and 11 am-7pm otherwise.
- Books are categorized – history, mystery, children’s, sports and so on – and found throughout the mall. New for the COVID era, there will also be a tent outside near Dunham’s.
- Educators with passable ID get 50% off their purchases from 2-7 pm Tuesday and Wednesday.
- New merchandise gets brought out every day, so shop early and often.
- Everything is half off on the final day, May 22. Then, after closing, a note on the letterhead of a nonprofit or a municipality gets you all the books you can stagger away with, free.
That’s where Draper-Livengood comes in, with a crew of husky volunteers and some large vehicles.
“My idea,” she said, “is to wipe you out.”
Bring it on, we say – and we’ll see her again next year.
If he’s not buried in a book, you can reach Neal Rubin at NARubin@freepress.com. Kindly follow him on Twitter at @nealrubin_fp.